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UMD Earns Highest Honor for Community Service

March 22, 2013

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

President's Higher Education Community Service Honor RollCOLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland has been named to the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. 

The Honor Roll, launched in 2006, annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve.

"We are extremely honored to be named to the 2013 Honor Roll, solidifying our efforts to create positive social change through transformative learning and community engagement," says Deborah Slosberg, coordinator for local community service-learning on campus. "We are proud that the incredible service work UMD students have done in our community has been recognized and we are grateful to everyone in the university community who helped earn this honor."

"Congratulations to the University of Maryland, its faculty and students for its commitment to service, both in and out of the classroom," says Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which manages the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the American Council on Education and Campus Compact. "Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges."

UMD students from all across campus engaged in more than 300,000 hours of community service during the 2011-2012 academic year. A few of the university's key service projects include the Northwestern High School Partnership, Partners in Print and Beyond the Classroom.

UMD students participating in community serviceThe Northwestern High School (NHS) Partnership provides NHS students with experiences and opportunities that ensure they recognize a college education is accessible and attainable. Partners in Print is a year-long bilingual family literacy program, which promotes parental involvement by providing parents with tools to engage children in reading at home in an interactive and effective way. And Beyond the Classroom is an interdisciplinary living-learning program that prepares students to be active, responsible citizens and leaders in a complex, multicultural, and global society.

These programs are a few of the many service learning opportunities available to UMD students. To learn more about the university's service learning initiatives, visit http://thestamp.umd.edu/lcsl.

To learn more about the Honor Roll and to view the full list of honorees, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/initiatives/honorroll.asp.

Rock Star Status for New Colt on Campus

March 21, 2013

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's Campus Farm has welcomed the newest member of the Terrapin family frolicking outside the horse barn: a thoroughbred colt. This marks the first time in three decades a foal has been born on the university’s Campus Farm.

Foal born at UMD's Campus Farm“It was the most exhausting but rewarding experience,” says junior animal science major Steven Moirano. “It was just incredible.”

Students like Moirano, enrolled in an equine reproduction course, were on “foal watch” for several days and nights prior to the colt’s arrival, sleeping inside the barn or the farm’s small office building. “All of a sudden it was happening and within 15 minutes the foal was out on the ground,” says senior animal science major Kristen Brady, who witnessed the foal stand and take his first steps within 30 minutes of his birth. “People don’t realize how much more productive a foal is than a baby being born. You can literally watch him learn everything within the first couple of hours.”

Having foals born on campus was somewhat common before roughly the mid-80s, when the Campus Farm had more acreage. However, Dr. Amy Burk, coordinator of the equine studies program in the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences (ANSC), has been working for the past several years to bring foals back to campus.

“Not only is this going to make our equine studies program better but it’s going to make people more aware of the horse-breeding industry – in particular Thoroughbreds – which to me is the most rewarding part of working with horses,” says Burk.

Animal science students have been involved with the entire process of preparing the horses to foal and bringing them to campus. In order to overcome space constraints on the Campus Farm, two pregnant mares were kept on a demonstration farm in Clarksville, Md., where research is being conducted on the effects of rotational grazing on pasture management. The mares were transported to campus about a month before the first – named Cassie – was due to give birth.

Foal born at UMD's Campus FarmThe yet-to-be-named Thoroughbred colt will remain on campus throughout the fall semester so that students can continue to work with him. Faculty, staff and students within ANSC are compiling a list of suggested names for him and will eventually invite the campus community to vote for their favorite. He’ll soon have a friend to frolic with too as another mare, named Amazin’, is due to give birth April 7 on campus, setting up round two of “foal watch.”

“The horse barn is just filled with so many people with joy and excitement so it’s really lightened everybody’s spirits and put a smile on people’s faces,” says Burk.

Watch the colt in action:

Journalism Senior Scores Second Place and $2k Prize

March 21, 2013

Dave Ottalini 301-405-1321

Josh FendrickCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Josh Fendrick, a senior in the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, has been named a top five semi-finalist in the Broadcast Television News Competition of the William Randolph Hearst Student Journalism Awards Program.

Fendrick took second place and a $2,000 award in the annual contest.  His entries included a report filed for the Merrill College’s Capital News Service from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in August called, “March on Wall Street South,” as well as a report which took an in-depth look at Maryland ballot question 3 dealing with the removal of elected officials from office.

Fendrick will now submit additional entries for a semi-final round of judging, which will include the top five winners from the earlier Television Feature Reporting Competition.

Following the semi-finals, five students will be selected to participate in the championship competition in San Francisco in June, along with the radio, writing, photojournalism and multimedia finalists.

Watch Fendrick’s report about Question 3:

Winners Saw 'No Limits' in Pitch Competition

March 14, 2013

Carrie Handwerker 301-405-5833
Greg Muraski 301-405-5283

No Limits Social Impact Pitch CompetitionCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Competition was so close among University of Maryland student social entrepreneurs in the recent No Limits Social Impact Pitch Competition that the judges awarded two top winners.

The competition was part of the Social Enterprise Symposium, a daylong affair on March 1 that explored the role of business in social and environmental change, hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

School fitness program KidFit and international mobile money transfer service Payvius shared the first-place status, but not the prize money. In a surprising turn of events, the judges decided to pitch in additional money and award $3,000 top prizes to each company. KidFit also took home the audience-selected People’s Choice Award for $500. In addition to the cash prizes, the winners will also benefit from in-kind mentoring services from the Center for Social Value Creation’s entrepreneurship network including Ashoka, ThinkImpact and PunchRock.

Maggie CroushoreThe winners were among five UMD student finalists from schools and colleges across campus, from public policy to business to theater. The students pitched their ideas to improve their communities and the world before a panel of judges and a live audience. Each had six minutes to pitch their idea and four minutes to answer questions from judges. The competition capped off the content portion of the Center for Social Value Creation’s fifth annual symposium event, which attracted more than 1,000 students from across campus.

The “No Limits” finalists also represented UMD’s diverse student population passionate about social value creation and using business principles to create a better world – the main vision of the center.

Mondiu LadejobiMaggie Croushore, a master’s of public policy student, runs KidFit. She is currently working with schools to improve their active education (traditionally physical education and recess) delivery.

Mondiu Ladejobi, an executive MBA student, launched Payvius. The low-cost mobile money transfer service that enables secure international money transfers from a sender in the United Sates to any mobile phone in sub-Saharan Africa, and provides recipients with the opportunity to build credit in developing economies.

Competition judges were Jigar Shah, consultant, entrepreneur and author of "The Impact Economy;" Devin Schain, founder & CEO of Campus Direct Inc.; and Lisa Hall, president and CEO of Calvert Foundation, who also delivered the symposium’s afternoon keynote speech.

Other finalists in the competition were:

  • Microjusticia, a nonprofit offering pro bono legal services to NGOs in Argentina – run by Juan Bellocq (master’s of public policy, 2013)
  • Destinalo.com, a website that connects local and family-owned tourism businesses with independent travelers – run by Cristina Huidobro (master’s of community planning, 2013)
  • ProCity, a network for donating unwanted items that benefits charities – run by Christopher Lane (undergraduate, majoring in psychology and theater, 2015)

The competition is led by the Center for Social Value Creation in partnership with the School of Public Policy’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, with support from the Smith School’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

No Limits Social Impact Pitch Competition Finalists

Diversity in the Sports Media: What Happened?

March 14, 2013

Dave Ottalini 301-405-1321

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports JournalismCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - Just how diverse is sports media? The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland will hear from a wide variety of voices on this issue during a panel discussion Wednesday, March 27.

The 7 p.m. event at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism on campus features a panel of media professionals from national outlets and an academic from the University of Maryland.

The topics will range from the lack of minority sports editors, the dearth of women and minorities in the sports blogosphere and what can be done to make the sports page and media as a whole more diverse.

Panelists include David Aldridge, Mary Byrne, Keith Clinkscales, David L. Andrews and Kevin Lockland, and will be moderated by Kevin Blackistone.

David Aldridge cut his teeth at The Washington Post covering Georgetown, the Washington Bullets and the Washington Redskins before later working for the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN. He is now a reporter covering the NBA and MLB for Turner Television Networks.

Mary Byrne is the managing editor for sports at USA Today where she's been since April. Before USA Today, she was the deputy sports editor at the Associated Press.

Keith Clinkscales launched The Shadow League earlier this year. The site describes itself as "a site dedicated to presenting journalistically sound sports coverage with a cultural perspective that insightfully informs sports fans worldwide." Before The Shadow League, Clinkscales was the vice president for content at ESPN.

David L. Andrews is a professor in the Kinesiology Department at the University of Maryland whose research focuses on the relationship between sports practices and the broader social formations in which they are located.

Rounding out the panel is Kevin Lockland who is the Vice President of Editorial Operations at SB Nation and previously oversaw the day-to-day operations of AOL's sports initiatives.

The event in Knight Hall's Richard Eaton Auditorium is free and open to the public. For more information, please email events@povichcenter.org or call 301-405-4605.

A Look into the Future of Quantum Computing

March 13, 2013

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Discoveries by physicists and materials scientists at the University of Maryland and other leading institutions have the world on the verge of a new technological revolution in which the strange and unique properties of quantum physics become relevant and exploitable in the context of information science and technology.

Photograph of a surface trap that was fabricated by Sandia National Labs and used to trap ions at the University of Maryland-based Joint Quantum Institute JQI and at Duke.Recently, Science Magazine invited UMD Physics Professor Chris Monroe and Duke Professor Jungsang Kim to speculate on a pivotal research area in advancing this new age: the use of ion trap technology as a scalable option for quantum computing. Their article is highlighted on the cover of the March 8, 2013 issue with an image (right) that portrays a photograph of a surface trap that was fabricated by Sandia National Labs and used to trap ions at the University of Maryland-based Joint Quantum Institute JQI and at Duke.

Quantum computing promises to revolutionize the way that we do certain tasks, such as encrypting secret information and searching databases. The ion trap approach to this technology has historically led the field, with Monroe as a major player. His research group has five laboratories and focuses on using atomic qubits (information carriers) to do basic physics research and to develop scalable quantum computers.  In 2009, Monroe led a research team that for the first time successfully teleported information between two separate atoms in unconnected enclosures a meter apart - a significant milestone in the global quest for practical quantum information processing.

JQI is a research partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland Physics Department, with support from the Laboratory for Physical Sciences. Research at JQI covers all aspects of quantum computing research, from developing and testing hardware that may make up future devices to world-class theoreticians who hope to harness exotic particles for quantum computing. The strength that this institute offers is an interdisciplinary approach, which allows for cutting edge research to meet real-world applications.

The co-authors, Monroe and Kim are part of a larger collaboration called MUSIQC, which stands for Modular Universal Scalable Ion-trap Quantum Computer, and is supported by the Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity (IARPA). This program focuses on building the components necessary for a practical quantum computer. The effort involves national labs, universities, and even private small businesses.

About the image
Trapped atomic ions are a promising architecture that satisfies many of the critical requirements for constructing a quantum computer. Ion traps themselves were invented more than a half-century ago, but researchers have implemented new technologies in order to execute quantum operations. Professionally micro-fabricated devices, like the one shown on the cover, resemble traditional computer components. Although quantum logic operations in such chip traps remain elusive, the obstacles are not prohibitive. In the US, researchers at institutions such as NIST (Boulder), Sandia National Labs, Georgia Tech Research Institute, JQI, Duke, MIT, and others are now, often collaboratively, fabricating and testing these technologies. (Permissions/Credit: JQI)

"Scaling the Ion Trap Quantum Processor," C. Monroe and J. Kim, Science, March 8, 2013

This news item was written by E. Edwards at JQI and edited for UMD Right Now. For more detailed information visit jqi.umd.edu.

UMD Creates Model Energy Course for U.S. Colleges

March 12, 2013

Neil Tickner 301-405-4622

Collaborative Initiative Seeks to Educate Students on Key Energy Issues

University of MarylandCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – To develop a new generation of energy-savvy leaders, University of Maryland experts have developed a new curriculum that federal officials and education leaders hope will be used at colleges around the country. A unique, interdisciplinary curriculum called 'Energy 101,' comprised of group projects and educational modules, is the result of the collaborative efforts of UMD, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environment and Energy Study Institute (EESI).  The new curriculum is designed to challenge college students across the country to systematically explore the science and social science issues behind sound energy decision-making and to teach them to apply those skills to workplace and personal decisions. 

A UMD course designed by faculty from the College of Education and the A. James Clark School of Engineering will be showcased as a model for a new national curriculum initiative designed to help address the array of energy challenges facing the country. The UMD pilot course, Designing a Sustainable World, was co-developed by Leigh Abts and Idalis Villanueva. When DOE unveils the national curriculum next month, the course will be highlighted as a case study on how other universities may align their Energy 101 version to a curricular framework based on standards.

"Designing a Sustainable World is intended to provide a general education experience where the students create a meaningful design to address a critical issue in energy and/or sustainability," explains Abts, a UMD research associate professor jointly appointed in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership. "The course encourages students to 'take a Leonardo Da Vinci approach,' to 'think out of the box' and apply basic design tools to map out and explore solutions. The students submit their design projects to an e-portfolio that will enable them to continue to build upon their designs well beyond the course, encouraging them to be life-long innovators."

Designing a Sustainable World is already being offered this semester at UMD, attracting 28 students from various disciplines, ranging from computer science to food science.

"Research has shown that innovative project-based courses exploring challenging, real-world problems, such as Designing a Sustainable World, help students to develop valuable research and critical thinking skills that are indispensable in today's knowledge-based economy," says Donna Wiseman, dean of the College of Education.  "This course also has the added benefit of exposing a diverse group of students to STEM fields through an interdisciplinary approach."

The 'Energy 101' model curriculum has been designed to be used at every college and university across the country.  It is an adaptable program that can meet the specific needs of diverse higher education institutions and their student populations.  Similar courses are already being developed, under the mentorship of Drs. Abts and Villanueva, at Cecil Community College and Harford Community College in Maryland.   

"The University of Maryland has always prided itself on unique course offerings and experiences for its undergraduate and graduate students," says Dr. Darryll Pines, dean of the Clark School of Engineering.  "The Colleges of Education, Engineering and Undergraduate Studies have been quite supportive of this activity.  We hope that the course will not only help give students foundational understanding of complex energy issues, but also serve as a guide to other colleges and universities as they implement the Energy 101 curriculum."

The 'Energy 101' model curriculum was born out of DOE's desire to introduce the next generation of college graduates to energy literacy, sustainability, and energy careers as freshmen.  Also, it has involved leaders in the movement to increase STEM interest with project-based learning, through the National Training and Educational Resource and other means, to make interdisciplinary immersive content available for all to use. 

"By exposing students both to how energy works and why people make the decisions they do, we hope the next generation will be much better energy stewards than we have been," says APLU's Senior Counsel for Innovation and Technology and Director of Energy Programs, Jim Turner.

The ‘Energy 101’ project’s collaborators will offer a webinar on April 10, 2013 for teachers, administrators, and other interested parties.  The webinar will describe the model framework and its use in the development of a pilot course now being taught at UMD that uses group projects, DOE’s Energy Literacy Principles, and educational modules to help students build a mental model for making informed energy choices.  There will also be an opportunity for webinar participants to ask questions at the end of the presentation. You can sign up for the webinar at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/986285760.

For more information on the 'Energy 101' model curriculum, please visit www.nterlearning.org.

Bias Blocks Women in Science

March 12, 2013

Waverly Ding, co-author and principal researcher
Greg Muraski 301-405-5283

Waverly DingCOLLEGE PARK, Md - Female professors are almost 50 percent less likely than their male counterparts to be invited to join corporate scientific advisory boards (SABs) and start new companies mainly because of gender stereotyping, says University of Maryland researcher Waverly Ding, an assistant professor of management at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Beliefs that women lack leadership and business savvy, and are not capable of helping new ventures attract investment, block their advancement in these areas, she says.

Ding, with co-authors Fiona Murray of MIT and Toby E. Stuart of University of California Berkley, draw this conclusion from survey data and related statistics from the biotech industry and 6,000 U.S. scientists whose careers span 30-plus years. The study, "From Bench to Board: Gender Differences in University Scientists' Participation in Corporate Scientific Advisory Boards," appears in a recent issue of Academy of Management Journal.

The study controlled for the scientists' professional accomplishments, social networks, employer characteristics and proxies for subject interest in commercial science.

"Women are available," says UMD's Ding. "The numbers are there. They just are not being selected." In the data sample's final year (2002), women comprised about 30 percent of about 6,000 PhDs from U.S. universities or research institutions, but just 7 percent (49 of 720) of those scientists served on SABs of 511 U.S. biotech firms. She says this percentage never exceeded 10.2 during the study's 1972-2002 window.

Though her data appears to be the latest available that's specific to the SAB gender breakdown in the biotech industry, Ding says she suspects the percentage of female SAB members serving biotech firms falls below the overall, 12.6-percentage of women on U.S. corporate boards in 2012, according to an independent study.

But, she says, academia can effectively counteract the inequity.

"University scientists have helped create at least half of the publicly traded biotech firms operating today, and our data shows a female professor is most likely to draw a science advisory board invitation by tapping into her school's technology transfer office," says Ding. "Biotechnology founders strongly gauge an SAB candidate's reputation and quality of his or her network in determining that individual's business savvy."

But not all institutions formally support such offices – even though they "provide an ideal means for academic administrators to raise the profile of their high-performing female scientists," she says. "Networking by way of technology-transfer offices can be useful in promoting the research of women faculty and brokering connections between them and influential members of the entrepreneurship and investment communities."

She concludes the influence factor is a major issue, since gender bias appears most active in high-profile companies backed by high-status venture capitalists.  "When female scientists do receive invitations to join boards, they generally come from small start-ups with limited financial backing."

Further measuring the effects of specific areas of research interest and individual career aspiration on the SAB gender gap can deepen the understanding this issue and help erode gender inequity more broadly at the corporate leadership level, says Ding. "Our nation's continued preeminence in science and technology will depend on engaging the best and the brightest, regardless of gender."

An electronic version of the research study is available to media on request. Contact Greg Muraski: gmuraski@rhsmith.umd.edu.

Uncovering How Humans Hear One Voice Among Many

March 8, 2013

Rebecca Copeland 301–405–6602 or 301–706–8312 (after hours)

Jonathan SimonCOLLEGE PARK, Md.—Humans have an uncanny ability to zero in on a single voice, even amid the cacophony of voices found in a crowded party or other large gathering of people. Researchers have long sought to identify the precise mechanisms by which our brains enable this remarkable selectivity in sound processing known as the "cocktail party effect."

In a new study published in the journal Neuron, University of Maryland Associate Professor Jonathan Simon (Biology/Electrical and Computer Engineering), recent Maryland Ph.D. graduate Nai Ding, lead author Elana M. Zion Golumbic of Columbia University and colleagues from Columbia and other New York universities at last are unlocking these neural mechanisms, using data recorded directly from the surface of the brain.

NeuronIn a crowded place, sounds from different talkers enter our ears mixed together, so our brains first must separate them using cues like when and from where the sounds are coming. But we also have the ability to then track a particular voice, which comes to dominates our attention and later, our memory. One major theory hypothesizes we can do this because our brains are able to lock on to patterns we expect to hear in speech at designated times, such as syllables and phrases in sentences. The theory predicts that in a situation with competing sounds, when we train our focus exclusively on one person, that person's speech will dominate our brain's information processing.

Of course, inside our brains, this focusing and processing takes the form of electrical signals racing around a complicated network of neurons in the auditory cortex.

To begin to unlock how the neurons figure things out, the researchers used a brain-signal recording device called electrocorticography (ECoG). These devices, implanted directly in the cortex of the brain, are used in epilepsy surgery. They consist of about 120 electrodes arranged in an array over the brain's lateral cortex.

With the permission of the surgery patients, researchers gave them a cocktail party-like comprehension task in which they watched a brief, 9-12 second movie of two simultaneous talkers, side by side. A cue in the movie indicated to which talker the person should try to listen. The ECoG recorded what was happening in the patients' brains as they focused on what one of the talkers was saying.

The researchers learned that low-frequency "phase entrainment" signals and high-frequency "power modulations" worked together in the brain to dynamically track the chosen talker. In and near low-level auditory cortices, attention enhances the tracking of speech we're paying attention to, while ignored speech is still heard. But in higher-order regions of the cortex, we become more "selective"—there is no detectable tracking of ignored speech. This selectivity seems to sharpen as a speaker's sentence unfolds.

"This new study reaffirms what we've already seen using magnetoencephalography (MEG)," says Simon, who holds a joint appointment in both the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering and College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences. Simon's lab uses MEG, a common non-invasive neuroimaging method, to record from ordinary individuals instead of neurosurgery patients. "In fact, the methods of neural data analysis developed in my lab for analyzing MEG results proved to be fantastic for analyzing these new recordings taken directly from the brain."

"We're quite pleased to see both the low frequency and high frequency neural responses working together," says Simon, "since our earlier MEG results were only able to detect the low frequency components." Simon's own MEG research currently is investigating what happens when the brain is no longer able to pick out a talker from a noisy background due to the effects of aging or damaged hearing.

Simon also notes that the new study's results are in good agreement with the auditory theories of another University of Maryland researcher, Shihab Shamma (Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research), Maryland alumna Mounya Elhilali (now on faculty at Johns Hopkins University), and their colleagues, who are part of a wide-ranging, collaborative family of neuroscience researchers originating at Maryland.

A better understanding of the cocktail party effect could eventually help those who have trouble deciphering a single voice in a noisy environment, such as some elderly and some people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It might also lead to technology improvements such as cell phones that can block background voices to improve transmission quality of its user's voice.

More information
Neuron article, "Mechanisms Underlying Selective Neuronal Tracking of Attended Speech at a 'CockTail Party'":

Neuron's press release about the study (includes illustrations): http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-03/cp-st022713.php

Jonathan Simon's homepage: http://www.isr.umd.edu/faculty/simon

Jonathan Simon research group in the University of Maryland's Computational Sensorimotor Systems Laboratory: http://www.isr.umd.edu/Labs/CSSL/simonlab/index.html

S.A. Shamma, M. Elhilali, C. Micheyl, Trends Neurosci., 34 (2011), pp. 114–123 PDF

UMD Study Provides New Clues to How Flu is Spread

March 7, 2013

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

Donald Milton, M.D., Dr.P.H.COLLEGE PARK, Md. - People may more likely be exposed to the flu through airborne virus than previously thought, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The study also found that when flu patients wear a surgical mask, the release of virus in even the smallest airborne droplets can be significantly reduced.

"People are generally surprised to learn that scientists don't know for sure how flu spreads," says Donald Milton, M.D., Dr.P.H., who directs the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and led the study of influenza virus aerosols published in the journal PLOS Pathogens on March 7, 2013.

"Our study provides new evidence that there is nearly nine times more influenza virus present in the smallest airborne droplets in the breath exhaled from those infected with flu than in the larger droplets that would be expected to carry more virus," explains Dr. Milton. "This has important implications for how we prevent the spread of flu."

Collecting Exhaled Breath from Flu Patients: The Gesundheit II machine collects the breath exhaled from flu sufferers. Study volunteers sit for 30 minutes with their heads in the horizontal cone attached to the machine, which sucks in the air around their heads to collect tiny airborne droplets generated deep in the lungs. Researchers can then analyze the aerosols for the presence and quantity of virus.Routes of flu transmission include: 1) direct or indirect (e.g., doorknobs, keyboards) contact with an infected person, 2) contact via large droplet spray from a respiratory fluid (via coughs and sneezes), and 3) inhalation of fine airborne particles, which are generated by the release of smaller, virus-containing droplets via normal breathing and coughing. The relative importance of these modes of influenza transmission has not been well understood, but is critical in devising effective interventions to protect healthcare workers and vulnerable people, such as infants and the elderly.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that persons with influenza wear surgical masks to prevent transmission to susceptible individuals. Yet, this recommendation has been supported so far by only one study of mask impact on the containment of large droplet spray during influenza infection. Maryland's study is the first to provide data showing that using a surgical mask can reduce the release of even the smallest droplets containing infectious virus. For this reason, health care facilities should put surgical masks on those suspected of having influenza, and individuals with influenza can protect their families by wearing a mask.

Study Methods
Dr. Milton and his research team, including scientists from Harvard and Boston University Schools of Public Health and the University of Hong Kong, collected the exhaled breath from 38 flu patients and tested both the coarse (≥ 5 µm) and fine (< 5 µm) particles for the number of viruses using molecular methods. They found that the fine particles had 8.8 times more virus than the coarse particles (larger but still airborne droplets). They also tested the airborne droplets for "culturable" virus and found that virus was not only abundant in some cases, but infectious. However, there was a big range of how many viruses people put into the air – some were undetectable while others put out over 100,000 every 30 minutes.

The researchers also tested the impact of wearing a surgical mask on the virus shedding into airborne droplets. Wearing a surgical mask significantly decreased the presence of virus in airborne droplets from exhaled breath. There was a 2.8 fold reduction in the amount of virus shed into the smallest droplets, and a 3.4 fold overall reduction in virus shed in both the coarse and fine and airborne particles.


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